The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory has launched a new tool to help local and regional leaders assess the readiness of their communities for the arrival of plug-in electric vehicles.
The Plug-In Electric Vehicle Community Readiness Scorecard, developed by NREL for DOE’s Clean Cities initiative, is a detailed, interactive online assessment tool that collects information about a community’s PEV readiness, provides feedback on its progress and offers guidance for improvement. Municipalities, counties and states can use the PEV Scorecard to ensure they’re prepared to facilitate the electrification of transportation and reap the environmental, economic and energy security benefits that come with it.
“The nationwide deployment of electric vehicles is a revolution in transportation,” said NRELengineer Mike Simpson, who led the tool’s development. “There’s a significant amount of thought and effort involved in shepherding these new technologies into our communities, and the energy department saw a real need to provide local and regional leaders with some interactive blueprints.”
PEV readiness is a community-wide effort that requires charging infrastructure, planning, regulations and support services. It demands coordination and collaboration among dozens of stakeholders, including utilities, charging equipment manufacturers, vehicle dealerships, metropolitan planning departments, electrical contractors and community organizations. The PEV Scorecard helps communities make sense of the necessary steps and track their progress along the way.
Available online at DOE’s Alternative Fuels Data Center, www.afdc.energy.gov/pev-readiness, the PEV Scorecard walks users through a variety of readiness topics, including permitting and inspection processes for charging equipment installations; incentives and promotions; education and outreach; coordination with utilities; likely PEV adoption rates; and long-range infrastructure planning.
Within each topic, community representatives answer a series of multiple-choice questions related to their level of preparation. Communities receive scores for each topic, ranging from “needs improvement” to “excellent.” The tool then provides customized recommendations, resources and case studies to help a community raise its score within each topic. A community’s score and the resulting recommendations are private and cannot be viewed by other users of the tool.
“The PEV Scorecard helps communities see the forest and the trees in terms of PEV deployment,” Simpson said. “They can get a big-picture assessment of how ready they are and then drill down to the finer points to find out how to improve.”
Once a community begins its assessment, multiple representatives can return as often as needed to make updates and track progress. The DOE encourages each community to designate a central point of contact who collaborates with local and regional stakeholders to coordinate their input when using the tool.
“The energy department is excited to provide this tool to help make it easier for communities across the country to access more transportation energy options,” Clean Cities Co-Director Linda Bluestein said. “Not only will it allow them to identify new opportunities for deployment, but it will also provide them with access to a large collection of expert tools and resources.”
Clean Cities is the deployment arm of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Vehicle Technologies Office. Through the work of nearly 100 local coalitions, Clean Cities works to reduce petroleum use in transportation.
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory is the energy department’s primary national laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development. NREL is operated for the DOE by The Alliance for Sustainable Energy LLC.
Case Study: Auburn Hills plugs in to building code reform
Auburn Hills, Mich., the home of Chrysler, is a local and national leader in getting a community ready for the widespread use of plug-in electric vehicles. Working with the Ann Arbor and Detroit Clean Cities coalitions, the nrel helped the cities hosting the Big Three automakers in their efforts to move forward on making their building codes PEV-ready.
Auburn Hills’ started its efforts back in 2010, before there was a single PEV on the market. Seeing an opportunity for leadership, the city worked with a planning consultant to create an ordinance to encourage new construction to be “charging ready.” The ordinance does not require developers to include any particular wiring or infrastructure. Instead, the city describes the benefits of being PEV-ready and requests that the developer voluntarily install conduit that will enable future installation of charging infrastructure. So far, all new developments have included the necessary conduit, and several developers have also independently installed charging stations. Most recently, the developer of a new 20-acre, 300-plus unit residential project is prepping all of its units with the necessary conduits, wiring, and upgraded electric panels for PEV charging.
When the Clean Energy Coalition, which hosts the Ann Arbor and Detroit coalitions, received a $500,000 award from the Department of Energy for PEV community readiness activities, it knew that it wanted to build on Auburn Hills’ success. The city lent its expertise and took a strong role in the Plug-in Ready Michigan planning process that led to the state’s readiness plan. The coalition collaborated with Auburn Hills to present information to other municipalities, including a presentation at the Michigan Association of Planning conference and in-person meetings with the city of Dearborn planning commission, home of Ford; and the mayor of the city of Warren, home of General Motors’ technical center. The coalition also worked with Auburn Hills to pass a resolution to advance the use of all alternative fuels, the first one in the state. The city fleet is now adopting compressed natural gas vehicles and encouraging its drivers not to idle.
Since the outreach by Auburn Hills and the coalitions, Dearborn and Warren have adopted similar ordinances. In addition, Warren has installed charging stations in front of its city offices. Ann Arbor has not passed an official ordinance, but is actively encouraging developers to make their buildings PEV-ready.
Information provided by Clean Cities.